By Sheena Forde-Craigg
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – A Cooperation Agreement between Barbados and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been signed to establish an IOM Country Office for the Caribbean in Barbados.
Minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, Kerrie Symmonds, and IOM’s regional director for Central and North America and the Caribbean (UN Migration), Michele Klein-Solomon, initialled the agreement this morning in the ministry’s conference room, Culloden Road, St Michael.
Minister Symmonds expressed the hope that the establishment of the IOM’s country office would assist Barbados and CARICOM in developing a well-managed migration policy and migration strategies.
“This agreement sets out the framework for a closer relationship between Barbados and the International Office of Migration. It is, in my view, part and parcel of efforts at the national, regional and hemispheric levels to create conditions for safe, orderly, humane and regular migration,” he stated.
The minister further noted that the signing of the agreement “has immense potential to continue to help the Caribbean community to harness the benefits of regular migrations even as we confront the challenges of our time”.
He listed among these challenges, migration triggered, for example, by climate emergencies caused by the impact of hurricanes and migration triggered by civil instability in the region. “Both of these examples have the potential to destabilise small island developing states and, of course, here in Barbados,” said minister Symmonds.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kerrie Symmonds and International Organization for Migration (IOM) Regional Director for Central and North America and the Caribbean (UN Migration), Michele Klein Solomon, exchange the signed Cooperation Agreement to establish an IOM’s Country Office for the Caribbean in Barbados. (B.Hinds/BGIS)
Agreeing with the minister that a well-managed migration policy is necessary, Klein-Solomon stated:
“It is beautiful to hear… the notion that safe, regular, orderly and humane migration, when well managed can bring tremendous benefits not only to migrants and their families but to communities, and foster economic and social growth and development.
“But we need to be mindful that it needs to go into safe, regular and orderly means and not be left to the smugglers and other criminal organisations that take advantage of people’s desperation, and exploit in a way that is harmful, not only to individuals, but to the social fabric and communities. I couldn’t agree more.”
She noted that the IOM is committed to supporting Barbados in its own reflection on how migration can contribute to its sustainable development, to green economy transition, to alleviating the impact of immigration of skilled workers and to engaging with the diaspora.
In addition, Klein-Solomon mentioned that the IOM believes regional integration can help build resilience and promote sustainable development in ways that cannot be achieved alone, and that migration has a role to play in the integration process.
Barbados will not only host the IOM’s country office but also part of the coordination office for the Caribbean, with the Caribbean coordinator, Patrice Quesada and a team of experts in different fields of migration governance.
Barbados was admitted to the International Organization for Migration as its 175th member on November 30, 2022. The IOM was established in 1951. As part of the United Nations System, it is the leading inter-governmental organisation promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all, with offices in over 100 countries.
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